BREAK OF GAUGE
AN INTERESTING DEVICE DEMONSTRATION AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE.
Since the break-of-gauge problem first aroused interest in Australia, many men of inventive genius have endeavored to find a solution. About 273 inventions have been brought to the notice of the authorities. The object of all, of course, was to obviate the tremendous expenditure involved in unification. One of the more recent is that of Mr. J. H. Matthews, an engineer,
of Northcote. The inventor has never been a railwayman, but has been puzzling out mechanical devices all his life. His solution for the break-of-gauge took him nine years to complete. Armed with a model truck, miniature set of rails, and a small cinematograph outfit, Mr. Matthews arrived in this State, by the Katoomba yesterday. During the dinner recess at Parliament House last night he gave a practical demonstration with the model, the truck changing from the 3ft. 6in. gauge, (to scale) to 4ft. 8½in., and by pictures showed a full-sized truck changing over at Clyde. (N.S.W.). Members of both Houses manifested, much interest in the invention. Mr. Matthews has provided only for the transport of goods. Under his scheme where a break-of-gauge occurs, a bottle-neck is constructed in the truck, the rails gradually converging from one gauge to the other. Between the lines at the bottleneck are laid two traversing rails. The rolling stock is fitted with a device containing levers, which engage with the traversing rails as the trucks pass over the bottle-neck section. This disengages locking pins, which hold the wheels in position, and the wheels are then free to slide on the axles. As the rails draw closer together pressure of the rails on the flanges causes the wheels to slide inwards to the new gauge. When the truck has reached the even gauge, the levers working on the traversing rails are disengaged, with the effect the wheels are locked in the new position. Check rails inside the ordinary rail at the bottle-neck force the wheels outwards when passing from a narrow to a broader gauge. Mr. Matthews claims that a train can be changed from one gauge to the other within ten minutes without additional labor, apart from the train staff. It may be made automatic or manual without much trouble. He also states that by the adoption of this invention to rolling stock an effective and complete interchange between the States would be at once established, the device being applicable to all goods rolling stock. It
would not be necessary to scrap existing stock, alteration to locomotives, permanent way, platforms, tunnels, or bridges, which would mean a tremendous saving. As previously stated, the device does not affect locomotives. They are left where the break of gauge occurs. This, it is pointed out, is an important strategic point for defence, as without the locomotives an enemy, army could not use the railway to have men or material from one State to another. The device was inspected by the Royal Commission on the railway gauge question, and is the one mentioned in the report of that body as not having been tried out. The Governments in New South Wales and Queensland shared the expense of constructing a full-sized truck to make an experiment. This proved successful. Mr. Matthews would like to run the track from Brisbane to Perth to demonstrate its efficiency. He says it could be done with the necessary extra rails and so on laid down at the change stations.